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Like so many DJs, Paul “Rock” Spitale, owner of Blackrock Sound Solutions in Rochester, NY, endured the trial-and-error phase of his DJ business, and learned the hard way about the importance of a signed contract—be it mobile, or, in his case, club DJing.

“I once DJed an amazing Halloween party at a club where the owner was a ‘friend of a friend,” so I thought he could be trusted,” says Paul. “So I did the gig for an agreed upon amount over the phone. The night was amazing: costume contests, giveaways, and dancing all night long. The place was packed from open to close.  I worked my ass off that night giving every ounce of energy I had and was exhausted by the 4 a.m. closing time. No one wanted the night to end and several people took business cards on their way out. The owner complimented me and thanked me up and down at the end of the night.”

And then?

“He wrote me a check for less than the agreed upon amount. After I loaded all of my equipment into my vehicle, I brought the discrepancy to his attention. He drunkenly argued that I was wrong. I double checked the information in my calendar and reminded him about the amount we discussed. He stubbornly refused to acknowledge the problem so I let it go. It was my word against his at 5 a.m.”

“I tend to surround myself with good people, so after getting wind of what happened, my friend who made the referral reimbursed me.”

Bottom line? If it’s not in writing, it never happened. People rarely do business with a handshake and a smile anymore.

Secondary lesson? Says Spitale: “Never argue with a drunk person.”

Ah….and when you do draft up that contract, be sure to add a few things, but not too many: Name of client, address, place of location, date, hours of service, price, and what happens if you can’t perform because of accident or flat tire or twister or whatever else might happen, in which case you should add how you are to reimburse the client. Also, your return checks policy and protection to your equipment should be included. Remember, don’t scare the client away with too many restrictions.

Look for more tips from DJ Rock in the next issue of DJ Times.

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